Interim BU president is “humbled to be called upon”

Dr. David Garland. (Baylor University photo)
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WACO, Texas (KWTX) Truett Seminary Professor Dr. David Garland said Friday he is “humbled to be called upon” in the wake of the reassignment of Baylor Chancellor and President Ken Starr to serve as interim president, a role he played once before from August 2008 until May 2010, before Starr was hired.

“This is an important time for our University, and I am humbled to be called upon for a second time to lead the University on this path to restoring trust in Baylor,” he said in a written statement Friday.

“The actions being taken in response to the findings of the Pepper Hamilton investigation, we hope, will help our community heal, communicate our concern for those impacted by interpersonal violence and reaffirm that Baylor is resolutely committed to its foundational Christian mission.”

Baylor University regents Thursday reassigned Starr, fired head football coach Art Briles and put Athletic Director Ian McCaw on probation in the wake of a scathing report of a review of the sexual assault scandal that engulfed the school’s football program.

Starr will remain in the president's office until May 31, and then Garland will take over as interim president.

During a conference call Thursday afternoon, officials said no decision has been made about an interim replacement for Briles, but defensive coordinator Phil Bennett was being widely mentioned as a likely choice.

Bennett is a veteran coach who, for six years, was head coach at SMU.

Other administrators and athletics program employees were fired, as well, Baylor said, but they were not identified and officials declined to comment on how many were terminated.

Community leaders on Friday agreed that the scandal would have an impact not only on the school, but also the city, but said they're optimistic.

Former Baylor football All-American and Waco Attorney Derrel Luce said it's sad how the entire scandal has been handled.

"It's going to affect Waco hugely. I mean do you think we would have those pretty new bridges and pretty lights and that beautiful downtown if that stadium wasn't sitting there?"

"Waco and its partnership with Baylor can recover if the right approach is taken,” he said.

But Luce says the school’s lack of transparency must change.

“I believe in transparency but we still don't have transparency.

“Nobody has seen the full report, there are no details,” he said.

Commercial real estate broker Bland Cromwell says the local economy is so strong, it will survive the storm.

"This market is strong, stronger than it's ever been in 40 years that I've seen in the business we've had national press that was not necessarily good that this community is been able to step over and rally around and go forward and we'll do it with this."

Waco’s new mayor, Kyle Deaver, a Baylor graduate, says he understands the pain many are experiencing from the fallout of yesterday’s announcements, but said he remains positive about the future of both the school and the city.

"Both Baylor and Waco are in a position that we are more resilient now more than ever and both have gone through tough times like this before. We'll be stronger for it and I think we'll emerge stronger than ever."

The announcement came late Thursday morning as the school also released the findings and recommendations from an independent review of the university's response to reports of sexual violence by the Pepper Hamilton LLP law firm.

Baylor hired the firm in September 2015 to conduct an outside review of the university's in the wake of the first in a series of scathing ESPN reports.

The firm briefed university regents on May 13.

“We were horrified by the extent of these acts of sexual violence on our campus. This investigation revealed the university's mishandling of reports in what should have been a supportive, responsive and caring environment for students,” said Richard Willis, chairman of the Baylor Board of Regents.

“The depth to which these acts occurred shocked and outraged us. Our students and their families deserve more, and we have committed our full attention to improving our processes, establishing accountability and ensuring appropriate actions are taken to support former, current and future students.”

A report of the findings of the review by Pepper Hamilton summarizes over 13 pages the inadequacies it found at Baylor with respect to inattention and misconduct by university administrators and leadership in the athletic department regarding Title IX issues.

A majority of the report aims directly at the university’s administration and leadership and only partially at athletic department staff.

Pepper “found examples of actions by university administrators that directly discouraged complainants from reporting or participating in student conduct processes, or that contributed or accommodated a hostile environment.

“In one instance, those actions constituted retaliation against a complainant for reporting sexual assault,” the report said.

“In some instances, administrative responses and campus processes caused significant harm to complainants.”

In the section that speaks to athletics, the report says athletic senior staff failed to guard against harm to students by not following university rules and code of conduct, but then pointed out that administration failed to exercise oversight in athletics to ensure those policies were followed.

Law firm partner Gina Maisto Smith said during the news conference Thursday afternoon that the firm had “unfettered access” to students, faculty and staff during its investigation.

She said the firm also interviewed those affected by acts or alleged acts involving Baylor athletes.

She said a million pages of documents including interviews were reviewed.

Among the key findings of the review:

• The University's student conduct processes were wholly inadequate to consistently provide a prompt and equitable response under Title IX; Baylor failed to consistently support complainants through the provision of interim measures; and in some cases, the University failed to take action to identify and eliminate a potential hostile environment, prevent its recurrence or address its effects.
• Actions by University administrators directly discouraged some complainants from reporting or participating in student conduct processes and in one instance constituted retaliation against a complainant for reporting sexual assault.
• In addition to broader University failings, Pepper found specific failings within both the football program and Athletics department leadership, including a failure to identify and respond to a pattern of sexual violence by a football player and to a report of dating violence.
• There are significant concerns about the tone and culture within Baylor's football program as it relates to accountability for all forms of student athlete misconduct.
• Over the course of their review, Pepper investigated the University's response to reports of a sexual assault involving multiple football players. The football program and Athletics department leadership failed to take appropriate action in response to these reports.

“We, as the governing Board of this University, offer our apologies to the many who sought help from the University. We are deeply sorry for the harm that survivors have endured,” said Ron Murff, chairman-elect of the Baylor Board of Regents.

“Baylor's mission to educate men and women for worldwide leadership and service by integrating academic excellence and Christian commitment within a caring community remains our primary imperative. The Board has taken decisive action to ensure the University's priorities are aligned with our unyielding commitment to that mission.”

Starr mended rifts between BU, faculty, alumni

Starr, the former Whitewater special prosecutor and Pepperdine Law School Dean Kenneth Starr was officially inaugurated as Baylor University’s 14th president on Sept. 17, 2010.

“We know who we are. Our mission is unmistakably clear: "to educate men and women for worldwide leadership and service by integrating academic excellence and Christian commitment within a caring community,” he said in his inaugural speech.

Baylor regents and members of the school’s presidential search and advisory committees praised Starr for his intellect, his academic credentials, his administrative skill and his Christian faith as the university announced his selection on Feb. 16, 2010.

He was named to succeed President John Lilley, whom regents forced out in mid-2008 after selecting him to replace embattled former President Dr. Robert Sloan on Nov. 4, 2005.

Starr returned to Malibu, Calif. to complete the 2010 spring semester as dean of the Pepperdine Law School before moving into the president’s office on June 1, 2010 just in time to face the potential implosion of the Big 12 Conference.

During his six years as president, he mended rifts between the university and its faculty and alumni that had festered for more than a decade.

Starr had served as the Duane and Kelly Roberts Dean and Professor of Law at Pepperdine University from 2004 until May 2010, and was of counsel to the law firm of Kirkland & Ellis LLP, at which he was a partner from 1993 to 2004.

He served as solicitor general of the United States from 1989 to 1993 and took over the Whitewater probe in August 1994.

That investigation eventually led to the impeachment of then President Bill Clinton.

He holds degrees from George Washington University and Brown University and earned a law degree from Duke University in 1973.

He did not attend Baylor.

Starr is a fifth-generation Texan who was born in Vernon and grew up in San Antonio, the son of a Church of Christ minister.

Briles led Baylor football resurgence

Briles, a native West Texan who resurrected the University of Houston's football program during his five seasons along the Cougars' sideline, was introduced as Baylor University's 25th head football coach on Nov. 28, 2007.

Baylor went 4-8 during Briles’ first two seasons, but in 2010 Briles led the Bears to a 7-6 season and a berth in the Texas Bowl, the school’s first bowl appearance since 1995.

In 2011 Baylor finished 10-3, quarterback Robert Griffin III became the school’s first Heisman trophy winner and the Bears went on to win the Alamo Bowl.

The resurgence revived plans to build an on-campus stadium and in September 2012, ground was broken for the 45,000-seat McLane Stadium, which was completed in time for the 2014 season.

Briles led the Bears to an 8-5 season and a Holiday Bowl victor in 2012.

The next year the Bears went 11-2, won their first Big 12 championship, but lost the Fiesta Bowl.

Baylor had a second 11-win season in 2014, winning the Big 12 championship for a second time, but losing in the Cotton Bowl.

And in 2015, the Bears went 10-3 and won the Russell Athletic Bowl.

A tweet that Briles reportedly sent to players before the announcement Thursday said that “the remainder of the staff will stay intact.”

“Stay strong, stay motivated, stay faithful, love ya forever #Family,” the tweet read.

Briles Twitter account was later disabled.

His daughter, Staley Lebby in a Facebook post several hours after the school released the findings of the investigation, called the circumstances that led to his ouster a "media witch hunt" and wrote that her father is a "man of incredible character."

She wrote her father's "character has NEVER been questioned."

"There is always so much more to a story than being told. This media witch hunt has been the most disturbing thing I've ever witnessed."

Lebby is married to Baylor running backs coach Jeff Lebby.

Baylor responds after critical reports

The university is in the process of implementing an action plan that regents approved in February intended to prevent sexual violence on campus and to improve treatment and services "for all those impacted by interpersonal violence" to ensure "that the educational, physical, emotional and spiritual needs of victims are given prompt and priority attention."

The university said in March it will spend $5 million to prevent and respond to acts of interpersonal violence.

The plan also calls for taking steps to address the needs of students who prompt Title IX investigations; requiring Title IX training for upperclassmen and graduate students as well as to incoming students, and requiring annual Title IX training for faculty and staff.

Title IX, which is part of a more than 40-year-old law aimed at ensuring equal rights for those participating in educational programs that receive federal financial assistance, applies to all facets of a school's environment.

It has been interpreted to mean that sexual harassment of students including sexual violence interferes with the right to receive an education free from discrimination, and requires schools to take immediate action to end harassment and sexual violence.

The vote on Feb. 12 to approve the plan came after an initial scathing ESPN report on the school's handling of well publicized campus sexual assault cases involving two former football players.

ESPN's "Outside the Lines" initial report focused on five women who claimed Tevin Elliott, who was a Baylor football player at the time, sexually assaulted them in incidents from October 2009 to April 2012.

Elliott's attorney Jason Darling argued that the initial allegations were untrue and that the the sexual encounter was consensual, but in January 2014, Elliot was sentenced to two concurrent 20-years prison terms and a $10,000 fine after he was found guilty earlier in the day of two counts of sexual assault.

Elliott, a former defensive end, was indicted on Aug. 27, 2012 in connection with an incident involving the sexual assault of a woman in the early morning hours of April 15, 2012, during a party at a South Waco apartment complex.

Baylor suspended Elliott April 27, 2012 for unspecified team violations.

On Aug. 20, 2015, ex-Baylor football player Samuel Ukwuachu was found guilty of raping a female Baylor soccer player in October 2013.

He could have been sentenced to as much as 20 years in prison for the rape of the 18-year-old student, but jurors decided on probation, instead.

State District Judge Matt Johnson also sentenced Ukwuachu to 180 days in county jail and ordered him to perform 400 hours of community service.

In October 2015, Ukwuachu was released from jail after posting a $100,000 appeal bond.

In another incident unrelated to the athletic program, on March 4 Phi Delta Theta suspended its Baylor chapter and ejected the chapter's president, who was charged with sexual assault in an alleged rape in which the victim was left lying outside unconscious.

Jacob Walter Anderson, 20, was released after posting a $50,000 bond.

The charge against Anderson stems from an incident that occurred early in the morning on Feb. 21 during a party at a house at 2629 South 3rd St.

The victim told investigators she was sipping a drink at a Phi Delta Theta fraternity party when "she became disoriented and very confused," a heavily redacted arrest warrant affidavit says.

The affidavit says Anderson led her outside to a secluded party of the property behind a tent in order to get some air, and then forced her to the ground.

Details of the sexual assault were redacted from the affidavit, which says the victim told investigators that at some point she was unable to breathe and lost consciousness.

She woke up outside, alone and lying face down in her own vomit, the affidavit said.

She was "able to stand up and walk out from that area and find help," the affidavit said.

The victim returned to the house and found a friend who took her to Baylor Scott & White Hillcrest Medical Center, Waco police Sgt. W. Patrick Swanton said.

Anderson's attorney, Clyde Chandler of Cameron, would not comment on the specific accusations, but said, "There's only one presumption in the law and that is all people are presumed innocent and he is presumed innocent unless he is proved guilty beyond all reasonable doubt."

Then on April 13, former football player Shawn Oakman was arrested on a sexual assault charge, 10 days after authorities executed a search warrant at his campus area apartment and six days after his 24th birthday.

Officers responded early in the morning on April 3 to the emergency room of Providence Health Center in response to a report of a sexual assault, the affidavit says.

The victim told police she met with the suspect, identified as Oakman, at Scruffy Murphy's, a campus-area club, and then walked with him to the nearby duplex, a search warrant affidavit said.

Once inside, the woman said that her clothing was forcibly removed and that she was forced onto the bed and sexually assaulted, the affidavit said.

Officers "briefly spoke with Oakman," the affidavit said, "and he admitted to only having consensual sex with the victim."

Oakman was released from jail after posting a $25,000 bond.

Earlier this month ESPN reported that an examination of Waco police records over a five-year period uncovered more allegations of violent incidents involving Baylor football players who were not charged and appeared to face little or no discipline even though coaches and administrators knew about the allegations.

The newly revealed cases included domestic violence allegations, fights and a 4-year-old sexual assault case that hasn't been closed even though no charges were filed.

(John Carroll contributed to this story)